Painted Grey Ware culture

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The Painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) is an Iron Age Indian culture of the western Gangetic plain and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley on the Indian subcontinent, lasting from roughly 1200 BCE to 600 BCE, or, as the new consensus states, from 1300 BCE to 300 BCE.


  • Since many of the sites that yielded this particular pottery were associated with the Mahabharata story, I decided to undertake excavation at Hastinapura, which was the capital of the Kauravas. ... it is relevant to state that the excavations revealed that a sizable portion of the Painted Grey Ware settlement was washed away by a heavy flood in the Ganga. ... A comparison of this archaeological evidence with that from literature was highly telling. The relevant part of the text runs as follows: "After the washing away of the site of Hastinapura by the Ganga, Nichaksu wil abandon it and move the capital to Kausambi." Archaeologically, what is no less exciting is that the lowest levels of Kausambi began with the same kind of material culture as was there in existence at Hastinapura at the time when the flood destroyed it. The texts further mention the names of the rulers of Kausambi, according to which Udayana was twenty-fifth from Nichaksu.... .. Thus the approximate date of Nichaksu would be around 850 BCE. Further, since, according to the same texts, Nichaksu was the 5th ruler of Hastinapura, after the Mahabharata war, the war may broadly be placed around the 10th century BCE.
    • Lal, B. B. (2008). Rāma, his historicity, mandir, and setu: Evidence of literature, archaeology, and other sciences. New Delhi: Aryan Books International. p.16-19
  • When still a beginning archaeologist, Lal made his name internationally by digging up the missing link between the Aryans and India: the Painted Grey Ware (PGW, 1200-800) culture. As we ought to have realized since the controversies among anthropologists about hyped “missing links” between ape and man that turned out to be overrated or faked, a missing link tends to be tricky business. Eggermont told us Lal had identified the PGW as a marker of the Aryan invaders making their way deeper into India, and Lal’s first publications on the subject could be cited to that effect. Indeed, they still are: till today, some believers in the Aryan invasion quote Lal’s early hypothesis on the PGW as material evidence for their hypothesis.... even at the annual conference of the European Archaeological Association, Maastricht 2017, I heard this said urbi et orbi, without anyone protesting; which incidentally confirmed that in the fifty years since, no other such “proof” has materialized.
    • Elst, K. in BR Mani: A Legendary Archaeologist: Prof. BB Lal Felicitation Volume, Delhi 2018. Also online at [1]
  • But the fact is that Lal has abandoned this hypothesis long ago. Nothing in the PGW data positively proved that it was “Aryan”, or more “Aryan” than its surroundings. This was only assumed because it would fit neatly in the Aryan invasion hypothesis, which was taken to be a fact. Actually, the PGW had to fill the yawning gap in the evidential support basis of the Aryan invasion hypothesis. As Lal delved deeper into the subject, he realized that the invasion hypothesis was not a proven factual framework within which one could interpret new data. Instead, it was itself a mere hypothesis, one among several unproven ways to look at the available facts.
    • Elst, K. in BR Mani: A Legendary Archaeologist: Prof. BB Lal Felicitation Volume, Delhi 2018. Also online at [2]
  • The PGW is but one of many dashed hopes of Aryan invasion believers looking for a material sign of their hypothesis. None of Lal’s colleagues has discovered the long-awaited trace of an invasion.
    • Elst, K. in BR Mani: A Legendary Archaeologist: Prof. BB Lal Felicitation Volume, Delhi 2018. Also online at [3]

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